Rescue teams in southern Turkey say they are still hearing voices from under the rubble more than a week after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake, offering a glimmer of hope of finding more survivors.
Live images broadcast on CNN affiliate CNN Turk showed rescuers working in two areas of the Kahramanmaras region, where they were trying to save three sisters believed to be buried under the debris.
In the same region, rescuers pulled an 18-year-old boy and a man alive from the rubble on Tuesday – a day after they saved a 10-year-old girl believed to have been buried for around 185 hours.
Eight days after the tremor and its violent aftershocks, more than 36,000 people have been confirmed dead and survival stories are becoming few and far between.
On Monday, United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said during a visit to the northern Syrian city of Aleppo that the rescue phase of the response was “coming to a close.”
“And now the humanitarian phase, the urgency of providing shelter, psychosocial care, food, schooling, and a sense of the future for these people, that’s our obligation now,” he said.
After announcing an end to their search and rescue operation last week, the “White Helmets” group, officially known as Syria Civil Defense, on Monday declared a seven-day mourning period in rebel-controlled areas in the north of the country.
International aid has been slow to arrive in rebel-held parts of Syria, complicated by years of conflict and an already existing humanitarian crisis that has led to extra difficulties for survivors who lack food, shelter and medicine as they face freezing conditions.
On Monday, the UN said it welcomed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s decision to open two more border crossings between Turkey and Syria to allow aid into the north of the country.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay on Tuesday denied reports of food and aid shortages. There were “no problems with feeding the public” and “millions of blankets are being sent to all areas,” he said on live television.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said more than 9,200 foreign personnel are taking part in the country’s search and rescue operations, while 100 countries have offered help so far.